It is widely known that students learn better when the learning environment is seen as supportive and positive. In a positive learning space, students find the comfort to trust others and to face challenges and risks as they feel welcome and that they belong. Such a space is a result of the mindful contribution from the student, teacher and parent communities alike. This positivity they experience in the classrooms leads to an optimistic mindset.
How do we build a positive learning environment?
Nalapad Academy emphasises on the importance of maintaining healthy and transparent teacher-student relationships. The role of a facilitator at Nalapad Academy lies beyond academics. Our teachers understand the need for positivity and encouragement to foster a conducive learning environment for each student. These relationships are in no way limited to the teachers’ respective classrooms. Our high school teachers continue to interact with the primary school students on a regular basis through co-curricular opportunities, which helps them to develop strong bonds over a long period of time. Teachers and students sit together during snack and lunch break where there are no classroom barriers.
Our mentoring hours extend as a space for teachers to assess the students’ day-to-day experience in school. This helps the teachers to develop a detailed understanding of each student’s needs, strengths and challenges; both academically and holistically. Meeting individual student’s needs is one of the best ways to make the student feel comfortable in their class and at school. Such a relationship also helps to break down mental inhibitions students feel about emoting at school. For the younger children, classroom spaces enable open communication about their feelings. Our Grade 1 students, for example, have ‘emotion caps’ which they can wear to reflect how they feel that day. The students actively consider their feelings everyday for this activity. For a healthy and positive mindset, students need to be aware of and be in control of their emotions.
At Nalapad Academy, we do not believe that punishments solve problems. We understand that there is always an underlying cause for misbehaviour, and punishment is not a treatment for the cause. We believe that children can be conscious of their mistakes and can bring about a change in their behaviour when the right approach is taken. Students are counselled on the appropriate responses they can have in unpleasant situations they might have faced. We believe that mistakes are opportunities to learn, not only for the students but also for the adults. As a school, we are always open for constructive feedback and change. During our Independence Day celebrations, we collected feedback from our parent community on the student-parent activities we had organised with the objective of incorporating their suggestions in our upcoming events.
Children are nudged towards using positive language and golden words -such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’- which fosters a well-functioning relationship amongst the students as well. After all, the students are the biggest contributors to the learning environment. Such principles are taught to the students through videos and classroom discussions in the Value Education period held weekly. In this hour, the students actively think about the outcome of their thoughts and actions on various topics such as controlling food wastage, preventing bullying, developing empathy and encouraging mindfulness.
While teachers and students can collectively build a positive learning environment, the time students spend at home should also reflect the efforts made at school. To help this, there is an open and transparent line of communication between the teachers and the parents. Teachers give personalised feedback about individual student’s strengths and challenges, as well as suggestions on ways to build on the strengths and face the challenges.